Monday, March 31, 2008


ME: "Don't you realize? It's opening day! Don't you see what that means? It's flowers on the street, blue skies and warm mornings, it's Spring!"

MY DAD: "You're crazy. There's snow on the ground here. Nobody should be playing baseball in Chicago in March."

Well, whatever. I still look to opening day as one of the greatest days of the year (alongside the last final of the Spring semester, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Talk Like A Pirate Day?).

And yes, baseball is the most anti-climactic sport in the world because there's literally thousands of games a season--how can anyone get excited about a single one? I mean, really, is there any other sport where a commenter can get away with saying what Orel Hershiser said during the Cubs game today? That no matter what happens today the players, fans, and media shouldn't get too excited, there's still a trillion games left? Talk about pumping us up for the season.

But everyone knows that's a foolish perspective because baseball isn't about being super energetic. It's about short bursts of action and therefore short bursts of attention. Its most characteristic food is the shelled peanut, which takes serious effort to extricate, has more inedible than edible parts, and all for so little satisfaction--but it's just something to do while sitting outside and besides, it tastes good.

Such is baseball, the sport for the long winded and rarely gratified attention span.

I won't pretend to be some kind of baseball expert and give predictions past this one: the hype surrounding the Cubs this year will have worn off by the 1st of June. It always happens, and it's almost sad the way an entire fanbase can be so foolishly forgetful. Last week, in a Chicago Tribune online poll, more than half the voters said that the Cubs would win the World Series. Yeesh.

There's no doubt the Cubs have a good team, but their key players WILL get injured, as they did last year, because that's the kind of good players the Cubs have--oft-injured ones. And when the Cubs get in a rut at some point in the season, which every team eventually does, they WILL find it relatively harder to get over because of the hype and the pressure that comes with 100 years of French-military-type futility. We WILL hear about how the Wrigley Field day games suck from a player's perspective.

But you know what? I'm excited for it all.


In other opening day news, the Nats blew up their new stadium last night with a walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth by Ryan Zimmerman.

The most interesting thing I've read about the stadium is not the plentiful positive reviews of the fan experience at new Nationals Park. It's this harsh harsh harsh review of the stadium from the Post Style section.

I have to say, I'm torn. I just think about the new Soldier Field and, though from the outside it looks like a randomly dropped toilet bowl from outer space, on the inside everything is well laid out and beautiful. I feel this article does a good job explaining the current architectural problems in designing new stadiums, namely, building one that is as appealing from the outside as within.

Not the Idea of the Post but the Post Itself

Somehow, I don't know, March is over? Man.

First things first. Has anyone heard this song and not liked it? I think it took two bass hits before I was taken. It's "American Boy" by Estelle ft. Kanye West:

For the record, "WAG" stands for "wives and girlfriends." As in, "hey look at all the Yankee WAGs. Is that Guy George sitting next to Jeter's chick?"

And what a show by Arsenal, a truly gutsy (and a bit lucky, it should be said) performance that reminds us (a) that 2-0 is the WORST lead to have in soccer, and (b) to never, never, leave a sports event early.

The way Arsenal kept their cool was probably due in part to their coach Arsene Wenger, who might well be the only person alive I'd give a limb just to have tea with.

And in NCAA women's swimming, Stanford coach Lea Maurer managed to keep the team's head in the competition despite a ridiculous gaffe on behalf of the NCAA judges that cost Stanford 32 points and, consequently second place. But the girls came through in classy fashion and finished third, ahead of blasted Cal. Here's a vid of the start.

Much credit goes out to Arizona, who put the meet away on the second day. They just dominated the meet with their freestylers, and became only the second team in history to win all the relays.

Anyway, off to April.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

from hiroshima, with love.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I was recently reading a Slate article, called "Has Hiroshima Become Too Normal?" The writer, Ron Rosenbaum, does not seem to know which direction in which he wants to progress. I understand this approach--sort of a "I just don't know what to think" feeling--but I just can't agree with it.

Rosenbaum notes the hotels and touristy stalls at the memorials as well as the KFCs and Starbucks in Hiroshima and asks just how the city could be re-built in such a fashion. He then complains that there are too many memorials and that all of the memorials are filled with too many knick-knacks, but then he goes on to say that the 9/11 memorial creators are getting it wrong because there is no one way to mourn so many losses of human lives, since people grieve and remember and mourn in different ways.

Then, he goes on to ask just who gets to be remembered--the Japanese memorials are for those killed in Hiroshima, but they make no mention, Rosenbaum says, of the millions of Chinese that the Japanese war machine killed via twisted experiments and conventional as well as biological and chemical warfare.

To this point, the response is simple: we don't really want to announce our wrongs, and the Japanese are no different. They don't like talking about Pearl Harbor at all--it's a sensitive topic we were told not to ask Japanese exchange students about when they came to visit our high school. Additionally, how out-of-place would a wing a museum for Japanese war atrocities be in the memorial of those lost in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima? The two events are not intertwined in any fashion other than the fact that they were by-products of World War II.

And to Mr. Rosenbaum's first point--what? You complain that the city isn't exactly the way it was, yet you detest the memorials? What is going to make you happy? In my eyes, the biggest testament to the people who perished is the fact that Hiroshima is a modern, productive city that was rebuilt--and, incorporated in this new city, there are reminders of the city's past.

The piece is worth reading, but it feels little more than an essay done by a high school student who does nothing more than sit on the fence. It's a lot of writing that actually produces very little--the writer's feeling on the city seems to be one of "damned if it does, damned if it doesn't". This piece does not push the conversation forward in any way--which is quite disappointing.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"late night tales" (electroslow II)

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

"late night tales" (electroslow II) is my latest mix.

In case you haven't heard of the "late night tales" series, here's some info on it. My theme for this one is songs I'd put on late at night--so the title is pretty obvious, simple...and lame. I think the song selection and mixing is my best to this point, but I'd like your opinions on it (my transitions still need work, but I really like the transition from "weird fishes" to "all my friends")

jhuff "late night tales" electroslow II

mstrkrft "the looks
janet jackson "rock with u"
sally shapiro "hold me so tight"
m83 "unrecorded"
air "playground love"
annie "the greatest hit"
kanye west "celebration"
j dilla "nothing like this"
rjd2 "the proxy"
dj shadow "what does your soul look like part 4"
stardust "music sounds better with you"
nana katase "a.i.o."
alan braxe "penthouse serenade"
css "let's make love and listen to death from above" (spank rock remix)
casino vs. japan "over island"
radiohead "weird fishes"
lcd soundsystem "all my friends"
manitoba "218 beverly"
utada hikaru "sunglasses"
junior boys "so this is goodbye"

the stardust-nana interplay was just to prove that the songs are exactly the same (something i pointed out in a post a while back). the mix could be a bit shorter, but i think it works well to put on while you're working late at night and getting ready for bed.

your thoughts, as always, are not only welcome--they are requested.


my bracket is already ruined--i had georgetown winning it all. i hope western kentucky pulls it out over ucla tonight--not only to ruin everyone else's bracket, but because, yes, i am a trojan. let's go hilltoppers!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

the birds and the bees.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

The latest flap in Hawaii--a relatively liberal state socially--is about "outlandish" sex education.

The first happened at Kahuku High School--some students and teachers walked out of a sex education play. It is worth noting that Kahuku is home to a majority of Hawaii's Mormon community.

Then, on Monday, at Kalani High School, a parent was very disgusted.

From the article:

"But he said he thought the first part about HIV promoted sexual promiscuity and he and his son didn't stay for the second part about transgender lifestyle.

"We sat there for five minutes listening to a young man tell us how he used his finger to have sex with his girlfriend," Iervolino said."

It becomes fairly obvious that the parent is clearly anti-transgendered people--he does not want his son taught by transgendered counselors.

Heaven forbid he uses his finger--because we all know that's how most of America's children are conceived.

Here's my problem: we complain about teen pregnancy, and when we teach kids how to prevent pregnancy, parents freak out. If we don't educate the young, kids will learn from other mediums--mediums that may not be the best sources (like their friends).

Abstinence-only sex education simply does not work. Clearly, many parents have religious qualms with pre-marital sex, and this is completely understandable. However, I do not think that they should be naive and think that abstinence only sex education solves any problem. Telling children "no" does not make them want to avoid something--it only makes it more interesting because it is seen as a taboo. By having things like honest, frank discussions about sex on the table, we can avoid many problems--unwanted pregnancy, stds...the list is endless.

I clearly remember my parents having to sign off on sex education in the fifth grade. I also remember some kids not being allowed to attend sex education. If parents don't want their children to be taught about sex in school, they should politely decline and have their children go to a different classroom for the duration. I see no harm in this whatsoever. But, saying it's "inappropriate" is childish and selfish.

I just don't understand how people can be so shy about it all. Clearly, we're all created from this very process--in a sense, by not talking about it, we make children feel as if they're too dirty to even talk about since their creation seems so offensive and despicable.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mr. Dave Goes To Washington

Since I’ve been home for Spring Break, I’ve been doing a little covert election research. My father is a conservative Catholic and an avid Rush Limbaugh fan. He’s not so articulate when it comes to talking about politics (nor am I, to be honest) and he’s incredibly susceptible to Republican conspiracy theories. Basically, he’s my political opposite. However, he’s also a registered democrat (local elections in Pittsburgh are determined by the Democratic primaries, Republicans have no chance in this former steel town), and he plans to vote for Obama.

While there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding Black female democrats and whether they will vote with their sex or their ethnicity, little has been said about white male democrats who face the same dilemma. Of course, we agree that voting decisions should be based on the issues, but we must also face the reality that this is often not the case. My father, like myself, seems to be captivated by the fresh young face of Senator Obama. Good for him.

My question, though, is whether we should be concerned by the motives behind the votes gained by our favorite candidates? My father has also stated that he plans to vote for Obama because he doesn’t think the Clinton family has good values. I rolled my eyes. Should we be happy for these seemingly arbitrary votes, whatever our persuasion, or worried that voters on the “other side” might have similarly misguided reasons?

Or am I just distrustful of my father’s political opinions? He also told me that he’s 100% positive that if Clinton wins and makes Obama her running mate, she will be assassinated by a militant Black Panther group that wants a Black president. Of course, I rolled my eyes to this as well.

we're computerizing, and, unfortunately, we just don't need you anymore.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Sorry that we've been bad at updating. No excuses (well, we have them, but I refuse to think any reason is really fitting enough for not updating)

So, first up: my current obsession with Janet Jackson's "Rock With You"

If you add up the plays on my iPod and iTunes, this is the most played song of all of my songs...and I've only had it for three days. It has somehow racked up over 100 plays. It perfectly meshes the warm yet distant keyboards of Junior Boys, the angular guitars of the Rapture, and the layered atmospherics of Boards of Canada.

You'd think that I was describing the best new indie band ever ( for at least for the next three weeks or so, anyway), but no...THIS IS JANET JACKSON

and it took awhile for me to connect the dots with the song her brother did..

Michael Jackson's "Rock With You"

Obviously the songs have the same title (except Janet's is updated and includes 1337 speak), but i'm not gonna say "oh, rofl, they're by a brother and a sister and they're both good dancers rofl". They have the same title. This is not a coincidence.

If you look closely at Janet's video, all of the dancers' outfits take cues from Michael's wardrobe--and most dancers are decked out in shoes very similar to Michael's in the "Rock With You" video.

ADDITIONALLY, Janet's song includes the line "shadows dancing on the wall". No big deal, except Michael's second biggest album after "Thriller" was named "Off the Wall"--and NOT coincidentally, this is the SAME album that Michael's "Rock with You" was on. The two aren't exactly the same--which why I think that Janet is taking a subtle jibe at her brother.

Janet is known for keeping her distance from her family and hasn't publicly supported Michael throughout his recent troubles.

And, come on--cool lighting is very prominent in both. Perhaps this one is reaching a bit, but come on, this is not coincidental.



Next up: Japan's ISPs are threatening to use "special detection software" to monitor which users are utilizing downloading programs.

I hope this does not happen in Japan, but I also hope that it does not happen here. Hopefully we all remember that we have the protection of the First Amendment.

Yes, sharing copyrighted music is illegal, but so too is infringing on the constitutional rights of citizen. If we tolerate this, a Big Brother 1984 police state is next.


And what is Eliot Spitzer's Kristen doing? Well, she's sold 2 million copies of her single through her myspace, apparently.


I've completed my latest electro slow mix, but we'll wait a bit so that everyone is back in town to get it first.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

holding down the fort.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I have never lost a political election. When I was in fourth grade, I ran to be second vice-president of my elementary school for the following school year. I ran against a fifth grader (who was going to be a sixth grader). I won. I will never know what the poll numbers were--if I carried more boys than girls or if I was popular among the fourth, fifth or sixth graders (it was the coveted third grade vote that probably pushed me over the top--I think they had an affinity for me because I was closer in age to them than my third graders were allowed to vote but not run).

And that is the only time I have ever run for office. You've got to like that record, though.

Reading the LA Times, I wondered today if, during the '80s, as much was made about Japan as is currently being made about China. I know China has ten times the population of Japan and is about one hundred times bigger physically, but Japan was an absolute beast in the mid-late '80s...right before its bubble burst and it fell into a recession from which it has never really come back from.

I'm not old enough to know the answer (I wasn't born until '87 and couldn't read until '92) and don't feel like Googling. Anyone?

Mark Cuban, yes, that Mark Cuban, proposed an interesting question on his blog: When are foreigners going to start buying American sports teams? Many of the world's most prominent football/soccer clubs are owned by Americans (Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa, parts of Arsenal), but with the dollar so weak against the Euro (and the yen and the pound and the yuan and every other currency), you would think that some European barons and oil tycoons would start buying American sports clubs.

Perhaps it's because they don't see the American sports faring very well in their home markets. They would realize a large profit (especially with NFL teams), but most of these games air very late at night/early in the morning in Europe--is there more money to made in Europe? Basketball is already fairly popular in Europe, but will people in Istanbul and Milan get up at 3 AM to watch the Hawks play the Grizzlies?

It's all about the bottom line. For the same price, you could buy two or three fairly good soccer clubs (Birmingham, Aston Villa and West Ham were all sold to foreigners for under $100 million each within the last couple of years, and these are all very historic clubs).

Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it's a great investment, Mark.

Oh, and a philosophical question from class that I've been meaning to post for a long time:

You will be given a billion dollars if you decide to "will" someone to death in China/India/Africa. You will never meet this person, but they will have a family that they--a wife, children, parents, a cat and a dog--that they will leave behind. This person will not be sick or go through a protracted fight for their life.

Would you do it? Why or why not? Would your answer change if you knew that they were the sole provider for this large family?

(Be honest)

(Bonus points: What would Mills say about this?)

(I can only get away with waxing philosophical because JJ's resident philosopher, bsto, is
presumably in a hospital recovering from his surgery)


Hawaii's new football uniforms look like Oregon's. Unfortunately, Oregon's are trashy. What is up with the green socks with the black uni? Black would have been much better.

And the "all-green special game" uniform sounds like a terrible idea.

I was watching Sex and the City last night, and I realized that Entourage was the male equivalent to Sex and the City (obviously, Josh). Everyone knows the JJ kids are huge Entourage fans, and I'm kind of sad that we got pegged in to target marketing so easily.


Right, then.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

to whom it may concern.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

i sit here, watching hillary take rhode island and ohio and barack taking vermont--with texas still teetering in the balance--and i don't know what to say.

politics aren't about pretty speeches, obviously, but for so long, politics haven't been about morals, either. i'm not going to pull a cynical rant, for i do that far too often on other subjects and because i know every knows about the crooked nature of what goes on in washington. private handshakes, capitol hill steak dinners--the list goes on and will continue to do so.

however, there's something about barack that i believe in. i don't think i've believed in anyone this much politically in my life--and i'm not just saying that to say it. i probably started to care about the presidential elections in 2000. i wasn't sold on al gore--i just wanted him to win. i had been told in first grade by my parents that we were democrats (the only reason i asked was because my first grade teacher made it an assignment to ask our parents--this is the same teacher who told me that hawaii was the 49th state--i asked my mom to take me to the library and copied an encyclopedia entry saying that, no, in fact, hawaii was the fiftieth state). actually, both of them scoffed at me when i asked. their independent answers were the same:

we are democrats. the people of hawaii are democrats. we don't have money--we're democrats.

i was a bit disappointed--"democrat" didn't sound as powerful as "republican". however, i became a staunch democrat from that day forward.

my parents have since seemed to become moderates (with my mom swearing she would have voted for rudy and my dad abstaining from voting from 2000 on because he said he couldn't decide between bush and gore), and my mom has tried to convince me that, in fact, i am a republican. "your fiscal ideas are fairly conservative", she tells me, and many times, i can't really argue.

however, being raised in hawaii, i don't think that money means as much to me as social issues. i am staunchly pro-choice, pro gay rights and pro stem cell research. i am incredibly anti-NCLB (most of my high school newspaper articles lambasted it) and am all for dialogue, not bombs.

i realize that this election isn't really about any of these things. it isn't and it won't ever be.


but moving forward, i realize that barack obama is me. he's the america that i believe in--the america that i hope exists.

i'm not a history nor a political science major, and even as an international relations/global business major, i cannot say that i've taken a single course in college on american politics or american foreign policy. my background is primarily in asian affairs...with a hint of contemporary europe. this is illustrated in most pieces i wrote for jj and for the world at large--most of my work has been done on comfort women and the impact of european football/soccer.

traveling throughout america and interacting with people (including my own relatives living on the continent), it becomes fairly obvious that america is not me. it's strange saying that i'm not america--we're supposed to believe that the country is a sum of its parts and amalgamation of all of us.

i just don't see it. america isn't cities--america is everything in-between the cities that i love. finally, in barack, i see a candidate that i feel represents me--and not because he's from hawaii. it's been argued that his punahou schooling makes him of a "privileged hawaii" much different from my own. that does not matter to me--not a bit. not only do i think the previous statement is untrue, i find it irrelevant.

barack is a contradiction. he's an outsider among the elite. he's everything--and not by choice, but by being. you can't tell me the same about hillary. she isn't america to me--and she won't ever be.

i know this race isn't about who is or isn't most symbolic of america--it's about the issues. but if it were simply about the issues, 98% of this country shouldn't be allowed to vote. politics are everything to everyone. it's about speeches. it's about the ties. it's about hillary's hair. it's about old pictures. it's about beliefs. it's about hopes and dreams. it's about old, misinterpreted quotes. so, i don't really pay much attention to anyone who tries to discredit what i have to say.

it'd be easy to say that i want barack more than hillary because i am sexist. turnabout is fair play, though--it's just as easy to say those that prefer hillary prefer whites over african-americans or those with muslim ancestors. it's not about any of those things. at the same time, it's exactly about those things. like i said--it's politics, and it's everything that you want it to be and anything and everything anyone wants it to be. and, at the same time, you have to be able to take whatever anyone has to say regardless of how absurd it is, because that's the contract we all buy into when having an opinion on such things.

as i've said--i don't know anything about history. i somehow pulled a five on the ap us history test--which now seems so long ago and seems so irrelevant. however, i do know that abraham lincoln is regarded as one of the best orators of all time. i do know that abraham lincoln led the country at a time when it was at a crossroads--it was strongly divided (the states that make up the SEC and the parts of the ACC seceded, for heaven's sake).

and no one seems to say that he was a worse president for it (he was also from illinois, though this is extremely irrelevant).

i'm tired of people saying that barack is all about speeches. i don't care if he takes good lines from the speeches of others--the best writers always do. i'd rather have an incredibly charismatic speaker than someone with no charm whatsoever. they're selling us almost the same thing--why don't we want a good salesperson who makes us feel good about what we're buying?

i'm also sick of people saying that he has no experience--that he's too green. they said the same about my beloved arsenal...who triumphed today over not only europe's champions, but one of the continent's oldest, most experienced teams.

we keep saying that it's time for a fresh start and that it's time for new ideas and new blood--and at the same time, we knock someone for being too young and too fresh and too inexperienced. this youth should be worn as a badge of honor. the politics of the capital changes people. it sterilizes them--it makes them indistinguishable from others, regardless of party. no one rocks the boat--everyone's happy with making up the numbers and keeping the status quo.

will i vote for hillary if she triumphs over barack? yes--but that's because she's a better representation of my america and my vision for the country than what senator mccain can offer.

to me, the key line of the night was when mr. obama said that "these people know that government can't solve all their problems"

not yet. but a government changed incrementally can. a fresh, young government with bright eyes and an eager heart and a strong voice who's heard everything in the book.

and to those considering voting for mccain, think of how much you complain about where the country is going. losing your job? republicans. high taxes? republicans. war? republicans. everyone hated gw bush in 2004--and he found a way to win. i understand not all republicans are the same and that mccain is NOT gw bush. i understand it's frivolous and counter-productive to say "he's a republican and, by extension, he stands for all of these things". but if 2004 was a referendum on the gw bush presidency, then 2008 is a referendum on the state of the union--and so many people seem so unhappy (and rightfully so). the only way to change things is, to, uh, actually change the ideology of those in picking new people with new ideas to put into the driver's seat.

with all of this being said, we all know who i'll be rooting for to pull out a texas tomorrow morning.

cheers (and with hopes of a better tomorrow),


(and have bsto in your thoughts today--he's having surgery on his shoulder)

Another Obligatory Post

By now, you may have read this article in the Washington Post.

Or even this series of responses at DCist.

What I am most worried about, however, is my personal ambivalence towards this whole debacle.

Charlotte Allen, the unfortunate looking woman who penned the offending article, is simply misguided on a number of accounts. I don’t think I have anything to offer that the comments on DCist haven’t already jumped on, but here’s a summary of relevant complaints about the article:

  • The issue of women swooning over Obama and the role of raw emotion in politics could have made for an interesting opinion piece if Allen hadn’t (shallowly) delved into the pseudo-science that labels women the inferior sex.
  • In addition to studies that “prove” women are bad drivers, there are also hundreds of studies that explore the number of ways girls in every age bracket are intentionally and unintentionally discouraged from studying math and science.
  • Allen herself points out that in lieu of visuospacial skills, those of the fairer sex usually have “excellent memory and superior verbal skills, two areas where, researchers agree, women consistently outpace men.” If the SAT (of course, I’m not claiming that the SAT is the alpha/omega of intelligence assessment) places equal emphasis on math skills and verbal skills, how does she draw the conclusion that women are, on whole, “kind of dim”?
However, after reading Allen’s piece and the number of responses at DCist, I was struck by something – I don’t really care. I imagine that if I had read this piece in high school, I would have been outraged and started some militant coalition against the Washington Post. Today, however, I just shake my head. I can easily point out the flaws in Allen’s arguments and I could cite a number of studies and theories to dispute them. After three years of studying feminist theory in college classrooms with brilliant young women, this article just saddens and frustrates me. Has college made me apathetic? On the other hand (and I’m hoping this is the case), perhaps I’ve become more trusting in the opinions of people like those who left comments at DCist, people who can recognize this kind of drivel when they read it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

chavez and the big boy chair.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Hugo Chavez has amassed ten battalions of troops near Venezuela's border with Colombia and has closed the Venezuelan embassy in Colombia.

The Collective's stance on Chavez has been clear since day one--that is, we're not big fans. It isn't that we're's that we don't stand for the stifling of basic human and civil rights.

Basically, the Colombian military force attacked FARC forces in Ecuador--the attack was not an attack on Ecuador itself, but understandably, this could be construed as a violation of sovereign space.

Understandably, Ecuador's prez Rafael Correa is upset--but he isn't the one amassing troops. Laughably, Chavez is the one rallying the boys on the border.

The most basic question that needs to be answered, of course, is "why?". Venezuela has no part in this other than to flex its regional muscle.

You've got to love this Chavez quote: ""We don't want war, but we will not allow the North American empire -- which is the master -- and its sub-President [Alvaro] Uribe and the Colombian oligarchy to divide, to weaken us. We will not allow it.""

It's always a non-sequitur party with this guy, isn't it? I mean, fine, America has a history of not liking anti-governmental, socialist/communist/anarchist guerilla groups, but I really don't see any connection between this event and "the North American empire" whatsoever.

Chavez went on to call the Colombian prez Uribe a "liar", a "criminal" and a "gangster". Pot kettle black?

I don't want to get all conspiracy theorist on everyone, but come on--it's the oil, stupid. Political strife and uncertainty (war!) means a rise in demand (to be assured reserves are high) and a drop in supply (no one to get it...shift from production to fighting...refusal to sell in order to keep it for one's own war efforts).

But just a few days back, Chavez said that the US needed to watch its step if it wanted to continue to get the 1.5 million barrels of oil that it imports from Venezuela daily.

Chavez seems to think that he just gives this oil to the US free of charge. I don't really know if he understands the market forces or basic economics. If he denied the US the oil that it bought, the US would get it from somewhere else. He says he has a lot of suitors that want his Texas tea--but really, it doesn't matter who's buying your product as long as it gets sold.

Chavez said, out of nowhere "You create your front, Mr. Danger, we will create ours. We are going to defeat the empire."

What? Where does a talk about ceasing oil flows go to calling President Bush "Mr. Danger" and "defeating the empire"? Does Chavez pull these trite propaganda lines out of his ass? It's like he doesn't even care about context.

"The government of the United States should know that if they go over the line, they are not going to have Venezuelan oil." Fine. I don't think my car cares much about what sort of oil it gets.

The thing about politics, to me, is that I think change has to be done incrementally. In this sense, I'm a system reformer. I feel that a lot of people have these grand ideas about how the system needs an overhaul (indeed, it might), but the channels in which these revolutionaries go about things are completely off. You don't take down an oppressive regime by forming a merciless "communist/socialist" band of guerillas and take office that way. It doesn't serve the people any better--look at Castro's Cuba, the USSR, and Chavez' Venezuela. You can't really say that the people at large in any of these countries are any better because of their new leaders. Their ideas may sound new and their rhetoric may seem fresh, but the only thing that changes are the fatcats with the money and the power.

A lot of people, especially idealistic peers of mine, feel that change has to be sweeping and widespread and quick. This is incredibly unrealistic. The political system in this country needs to change, but it can't do so overnight--and I'd be scared if it did. These "system transformers" like to buy and sell these grand ideas for change, but once they assume power, they most often maintain the status quo.

If all of this makes me seem less liberal than others, I'm not all that bothered. I used to think that it meant that I was losing my edge, but, as the (radiohead) saying goes "pragmatism, not idealism". Be sensible. Be rational. I firmly believe that a lot of domestic and international systems need to be changed, but I think the most practical way is to be pragmatic and take it incrementally.

Rome wasn't built in a day--but the Vandals destroyed it in one. I think that's the most telling idea: positive change is something that takes awhile. Rapid overhauls, though, rarely do more good than bad.

Obama's Music Vidoes; Idealistic Rhetoric

In case people haven’t seen them, here are the two Obama music videos that Will.I.Am produced.

The first, "Yes We Can," and the second, "We Are the Ones."

They’re both extremely cheesy, what with their black and white production and over-sincere characters, but it’s hard not to be affected by them. In that sense, at least, they’re perfect for the Obama campaign. How many times have you seen or heard Obama speak and thought to yourself, “This is totally ridiculous,” only to realize that you (a) don’t want to change the channel, (b) are smiling, and (c) find yourself yelling at people in the room to shut up so you can listen to that idealistic sludge.

The attacks on Obama’s idealistic rhetoric are at times truly laughable, although not entirely without merit. If people want to attack it, they should stick to the fact that his policies on international issues, campaign funding, and abortion (just to name a few) are not yet fully fleshed out.

But the laughable criticisms keep coming. Here’s one you’ll hear a lot of from generally young (think 18-30) Hillary supporters:

“I’ve been following politics for years. I’ve seen the way Hillary has worked in the Senate and have chosen my allegiance through careful research. All these young Obama supporters who have never followed politics and are just jumping on the bandwagon like NY Giants fans are truly pathetic. They don’t know anything and are being manipulated.”

Maybe you’ve heard something like that.

What someone with this criticism is really saying, in part, is that they know more than the young voters who are new to politics. These political noobs are uninformed and incorrect. Being careful not to distort the criticism, I would even say that there’s an underlying familiarity and comfort with the way the political system is currently run that the above Hillary supporter might feel Obama fundamentally threatens.

In any case, rhetoric—ESPECIALLY idealistic rhetoric—and what the Hillary supporter might call “manipulation” are basic, fundamental aspects of politics. They always have been. Let’s talk about the galvanizing speeches of Madison and the founding fathers; let’s talk about Lincoln talking straight out of his a**hole regarding the equality of blacks and whites; let’s talk about the turn of the century urban machines holding parades and barbecues to show the Irish that they like drinking too; let’s talk about FDR and his fireside chats; let’s talk about JFK and RFK and how much they really wanted to end Vietnam; etc. etc. etc.

You see, rhetoric is the art of influencing an audience. And most of politics involves just that—it is about winning the vote of the majority of people. Seriously! All you have to do is have more people like you than the other people, and you win! So you try and influence them any way possible.

The fact is that we shouldn’t be bitter. We should be rejoicing. The fact that young voters are being enthused by Obama and his idealistic rhetoric means that more young people are reading newspapers, watching the news, really caring about the government. And in the end, if the enthusiasm continues, it will make our generation more involved with our government, which will make the government more effective.

So no matter how many times you roll your eyes when watching those Obama vids, at least recognize that they’re contributing to the transformation of much of a generation; a generation that will be marked forever by the deep impressions of idealistic rhetoric.

[For more YouTube political viewing pleasure, here's a hilarious spoof on a John McCain "Yes We Can" video.]